Los Angeles Clippers at Memphis Grizzlies
Grizzlies lead series 3-2
May 3, 2013
6:30 p.m. PST
Is this it? The Clippers are holding on for dear life, trailing 3-2 in the series as they head back to Memphis. It’s the simplest time of the year. Win this one and the sun shines brighter on ClipperLand as the Clips head back to L.A. for a Game 7. Lose it and the season’s done. Now onto 3-on-3:
1. How should the Clippers defend Z-Bo in Game 6? Any changes they should make?
Patrick James, (@patrickmjames): Step one: get Randolph in foul trouble. Step two: keep him in foul trouble. This will enable the Clippers to go small, which D.J. Foster suggested as a possible strategy after that debilitating loss in Game 5. Maybe that’s a Paul-Bledsoe-Crawford-Barnes-Jordan group (possibly with Odom in for Barnes). If Z-Bo’s on the floor, I say double off Allen and Prince: if they beat you with midrange jumpers and long 2s, so be it.
Fred Katz, (@FredKatz): At the very least, doubling hard in the post is an option, but that has to be consistent. The Clippers have gone with some soft doubles and they’ve seldom used that strategy. Often, Randolph has found himself going 1-on-1 in the post. In those situations, advantage: Z-Bo. Fronting him is possibility as well. The Clips just have to find a way to get the ball out of his hands.
Jovan Buha, (@jovanbuha): Is importing Reggie Evans and Kenyon Martin from New York an option? This is the biggest mystery of the series. The Clippers can’t seem to stop Z-Bo, even with a healthy Blake Griffin. The only solution is aggressively double-teaming him early and often, making Memphis’ (non) shooters beat them. If that happens, you have to tip your hat to the Grizz.
2. With Blake Griffin hurt, what do the Clippers need to do to make up for his production?
James: In a perverse way, the good news is that Griffin hasn’t been that productive, so there isn’t much to make up. Still, this looks like a big advantage for Memphis. It will be interesting to see whether D.J. gets some touches on the low block early, and whether he can convert against Gasol. Regardless, rebounding by committee is the imperative Friday night.
Katz: It’s hard to make up for the aggregate production of one All Star when he’s injured. The Clippers’ best option might be taking in a mentality of, “We don’t have our best big man and you won’t either”. Get Gasol and Randolph into foul trouble and all of a sudden, it can become more of a perimeter matchup than Memphis would prefer.
Buha: Play more small ball. The Clippers can use Matt Barnes, Grant Hill or even Caron Butler (in pinches) at power forward and speed up the tempo of the game. Ideally they’d use this lineup anytime Darrell Arthur is in as the 4-man, since playing small against Z-Bo presents a lot of defensive challenges and scrambling. If there was ever a need for a big performance from Lamar Odom, this is it.
3. Does the season end Friday?
James: Oof, it sure looks that way. It seems like the Clippers haven’t been able to muster a defensive stop since the end of Game 1, which was about the last time their wings managed to make more than one or two shots. Of course I’m exaggerating, but if the recent past is the best indicator of the near future, then things look bleak for L.A.
Katz: It’s hard to say no. The Clips didn’t look good in either of the first two games in Memphis. With Griffin playing at less than 100 percent (in a best-case scenario) combined with a rolling Randolph and Gasol, Memphis looks primed to close out the series in Game 6.
Buha: Yes. I picked the Clippers to win the last three games and they’ve lost them all. I’ve learned my lesson and am picking Memphis (I hope this works as a reverse-jinx).